Title: Where Worlds Collide and Days Are Dark
Summary: Hidden inside the hideous little statue had been M's request. James should have thrown the whole lot out and then he wouldn't be in this mess.
Genre: H/C featuring James dishing it out to Q and then trying to make it better.
Dedication: To my uber talented friend, faye_dartmouth, who is celebrating a birthday today.
Word Count: ~5120
Where Worlds Collide and Days Are Dark
James set down the box from the solicitor's office Eve had given him, shaking his head in bemusement.
It was hard enough wrapping his mind around the fact M was dead—she'd literally died in his arms and there was no coming back from that—but now he'd been charged with fulfilling a duty in her last will and testament.
Dark days, indeed.
Hidden inside the hideous little statue had been M's request. James should have thrown the whole lot out and then he wouldn't be in this mess.
He pulled out his Sony smartphone and found the contact he was looking for. As soon as his call was answered, he delivered the information succinctly. "Yes, I am sending you a picture and I need everything you can find on this individual. I'll deposit the usual fee in your bank account and you may bill me for the balance upon completion. Thank you." It took him just a moment to find the picture he sought and then it was on its way.
James didn't particularly like using external sub-contractors but this was one instance in which he had to go outside the confines of MI6.
Bloody hell. Why would M ask James to take care of Q?
James had to admit he'd been taken aback by Q's youthfulness. And his style. The kid looked like a beatnik with his blocky glasses, messy fringe and skinny clothing. How had he beaten out the other candidates for the elite Quartermaster position at such a young age?
Maybe when M had asked him to take care of Q, it was because he was her boy-toy and she'd secured his position at MI6 for him.
Or maybe Q was a security risk and M was reaching from beyond the grave to exact vengeance upon him.
So much for easing back into the thick of things.
James quelled the urge to tap his fingers impatiently on the counter. "Where is Q?"
"He's not due in today, sir. He did leave detailed instructions for R to assist you," the wispy blond, looking barely out of her teens, replied tentatively.
"That simply won't do. I require Q's presence here. Please let him know I'll be waiting for him in the new Branch. I expect to see him in no less then half an hour, " James barked before striding off.
James wasn't proud of himself for pulling the senior agent card, and putting the fear of God into the secretary, but he needed to talk to Q.
Actually, he planned to do more than talk. He resisted the urge to pat his inner pocket where he had a little surprise tucked away.
He wandered around the weapons area, admiring the fine craftsmanship on display, distracting himself from his mission. Usually he would consider himself a patient man but this was personal.
It took exactly twenty-nine minutes but a decidedly disheveled looking Q joined him at his side; hair fixed with more curl than its usual artful waves, what appeared to be a long-sleeved t-shirt visible beneath the untucked dress shirt and a scarf—it looked like an Everton football scarf—wound messily around his neck. It certainly wasn't the usual look Q cultivated for work.
"Dee said you required my presence. I do apologize for being delinquent." Q watched James through bloodshot eyes.
Dee or D? What was it with the bloody initials around here? James decided he much preferred numbers to initials.
James straightened to his full height, leveraging his one-inch advantage over Q to its fullest potential. "I have need of the pulse microjet."
"I didn't know you were going on a mission," Q murmured as he rifled through a cupboard along the wall.
"Oh, am I to clear those through you now? What was I thinking?" James softened his sarcastic rejoinder with a smile but Q actually flinched at its sight.
"Q, what the hell are you doing here?" The not so dulcet tones of Gareth Malory bounced around the large room. So it was the new M who had ruffled Q's normally placid demeanor.
The young man excused himself and James pretended interest in the device in his hand while he tried to eavesdrop; he was well versed in the technology that allowed medication to be delivered painlessly.
The exchange between the two men was muted and the only thing James caught was M's threat to have security escort Q out if he didn't depart from the building in the next sixty seconds.
James cocked an eyebrow at the younger man as he returned to James' side. "In the doghouse are we?"
Ignoring the question, Q stared somewhere over James' shoulder. When Q's eyes remained fixed, James waved his hand in front of the young man. "Q? Am I boring you?"
Q's lids shuttered his eyes for a moment and then he refocused on James as though nothing untoward had occurred. Gesturing to the microjet, he asked, "Any questions on how to use it?"
"I believe I understand how it functions." James tucked the device into his coat pocket, ignoring Q's odd behavior.
Dragging a tired hand through the mop atop his head, Q sighed. "I'm off then."
James nodded to Q as he headed out the door.
Chatting amiably with the secretary, James discretely collected her phone number, before he headed toward the car park. He doubted that he would have occasion to use it but she was charming in her own way and it paid to be on good terms with the staff at HQ.
Once he reached his Land Rover, he activated his smart phone and sent his message. Next he was off to the prearranged drop. Everything was progressing apace, unlike when he was on assignment and everything turned into a cluster.
He settled into the comfortable leather seat. It was going to be a long drive before he reached his destination and he had much to do before his guest joined him.
Adrenaline surged through his body when James received the text. Transport was pulling up to deliver his package. He stepped outside into the brisk air. The place he was renting was not that far from Skyfall and looked every bit as bleak as his ancestral home. At least as bleak as Skyfall had looked before it had been gutted and bombed. He'd had no plans to return to this area but suddenly complete isolation had its perks.
A black Cadillac Escalade pulled into the circle drive and parked in front of him. James opened the back door to find Q drooping in his seat, eyes blindfolded, hands and feet bound securely with zip tie handcuffs.
The ties made it too awkward for James to throw the man over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Instead he eased the unconscious Q out of the seat into his arms, one hand tucked under his knees, the other braced around his back. Carrying a dead weight was always awkward but James couldn't help but notice that the young man was much too thin which made his job easier.
The driver pressed the microjet into his hand. "Worked like a charm, Gov. Will you be needing me for anything else then?"
James declined the offer and the Caddy pulled smoothly away. The driver would receive a tidy sum in his bank account for his assistance as well as keeping his mouth shut.
"Is this little scrap of a boy supposed to be the new big, bad threat?" Kincade asked, eschewing his gamekeeper duties at Skyfall to assist James now that the big home was demolished.
James shrugged which caused Q's head to roll along his shoulder, in danger of dropping backward over his arm. He hitched the body in his arms and Q's mop settled securely beneath James' chin. "Not sure. That's why he's here."
Kincade grunted. "Fine, then. I've set up that room in the basement the way you wanted."
"I'll just go ahead and get Q settled then. Thank you." Kincade held the door for him as he swept inside. He pressed the microjet into the older man's hand, knowing the device would be stored safely in his room.
He had to watch his step on the stairwell, but before long he was sitting the drugged boy safely in the heavy antique chair.
The zip ties were cut off and Q was divested of his scarf and pinstripe shirt before James wrapped lined black leather restraint cuffs around the thin wrists and ankles, securing Q tightly to the chair.
James tugged up the gray long sleeve on Q's left arm and had the IV inserted and drugs hung on a pole at the ready behind the chair with little effort.
Stepping out of the room, he pulled the lightweight leather hood over his head, adjusting the holes so he could see and breathe easily. He'd made sure to wash with plain soap with no cologne so that his scent wouldn't give him away. Lastly he attached the vocoder to his throat and tested his synthesized voice; it was completely unrecognizable.
Entering the room, he found Q stirring, head bobbing on his thin neck. James yanked the side table closer, strapping the bands around Q's right biceps and chest before fitting the sensors on two of his fingers. James wasn't sure how helpful the polygraph was going to be but he'd prefer not to go with a more invasive technique if he could find out what he needed to know with this method.
He took a moment to inspect the skin behind Q's left ear; the microjet had performed as advertised with nary a bruise to show for the sedative that had been injected into the young man.
"Hello, Q. I do not wish to hurt you. I only require some information. You are undergoing a polygraph test so I encourage you to be truthful. Do you understand?" His synthesized voice churned through the silence, making Q jump.
The young man struggled lightly in his bonds but quickly gave up. James was sure Q was still feeling the effects of the sedative and his slim build wasn't made for fighting. "Yes, I understand." If James had expected histrionics or defeatism he would've been sorely disappointed; Q sounded as he always did but his lips were drawn down and his body was tense.
"Very good. We'll start with the control questions. Please answer yes or no. Are you the Quartermaster for MI6?"
James consulted the read out; the veracity of the statement was apparent in the squiggled lines before him.
"Do you report to M?"
Another excellent reading.
James dug into his bag of tricks. "Is your legal name Stephen Sinclair?"
The sub-contractor he'd engaged had been able to dig up that hidden gem.
Q's breathing sped up and he twisted against his cuffs. "I don't," he halted, swallowing convulsively, shaking his head, "please."
"Answer the question. Is your legal name Stephen Sinclair?" His mechanical voice droned, giving James a faint headache.
"Yes?" The lines jumped in a different pattern.
"Is that your final answer?" James couldn't prevent his mouth from quirking. It was as though Q didn't know his name. Or perhaps Stephen Sinclair wasn't his legal name. Interesting. Perhaps the polygraph wouldn't be enough.
Q sighed, "Yes." The lines repeated their jumbled mess.
It had been worth a shot but they hadn't even made it out of the control phase. It was time to pull out the big guns.
James adjusted the setting on the IV pump and watched as the clear liquid stole into Q's vein. The drug was an upgrade on Sodium thiopental. James had no doubt that he would get the whole truth from Q now but he'd have to monitor his blood pressure and respirations carefully as the drug was known to cause cardiovascular and respiratory depression.
He wanted the truth from the young man who he was growing to admire more, not his death.
Kneeling down, James undid the ankle cuffs and pulled over the chair's matching ottoman. Q's limbs were already leaden and unwieldy and it took some doing to get them propped on the furniture. The heavily drugged man was in no danger of going anywhere under his own steam at the moment and James might as well make him as comfortable as possible.
James fitted a pulse oximeter on to the tip of Q's finger, satisfied that the reading was above 97%. Next he hooked up the CNAP using Pulse Wave Velocity to Q's arm; this would be used to monitor the young man's blood pressure noninvasively.
Q was completely under the influence of the truth serum at this stage so James removed the blindfold from his head, his curls springing up in the wake of the material as it was dragged away. Usually bright blue eyes blinked groggily up at James.
"Tell me about your relationship with M," James requested, wishing he could do away with the hood and vocoder but he didn't want to take the slightest chance that Q would recognize him.
Flexing against the wrist restraints, Q winced as the needle in his arm shifted at the movement. He continued to stare at his arm, ignoring the question.
James rose gracefully to his feet, grasping Q's chin tightly and tilted it upward. Blue eyes swam with confusion but Q no longer struggled. "Tell me about you and M."
Q licked at his lips, his eyes sliding away to look somewhere over James' shoulder. "I don't think Gareth likes me much."
"Not that M, the previous M. The recently deceased M." James knew it wasn't Q's fault—the drugs played havoc with motor skills and thought processes alike—but he wanted to move this along. He'd prefer to unhook Q from the drug cocktail as soon as possible.
Forehead wrinkling, Q pulled back out of James' grasp. "M was nice to me." James did roll his eyes at that; he thought perhaps the drug required a bit more testing before using it in the field.
James enunciated every syllable of every word, his synthesized voice coming out even creepier. "Were you her little boy-toy?"
That got Q's attention. He gaped at James, the proverbial fish out of water.
The machines recording Q's physiological responses beeped. James swept his eyes over the readings, satisfied that Q wasn't in any danger.
"I…what? No! M was my mentor." The reaction laid that theory to rest.
"Did you know M previous to securing your position as Q?" James probed farther.
Q stared up at James, blinking as if to clear his vision. "No. I knew of her but I met her for the first time when I interviewed for Quartermaster. She was a great lady."
On that they could both agree. James didn't always agree with her methods, but M had been dedicated to her job to the exclusion of all else.
"How did you beat out the competition for your position? You are rather young for such responsibility."
Instead of a cocky, glib announcement along with lines that Q could do more damage in his pyjamas before his first sip of Earl Gray than an agent—specifically James—could do in the field in a whole year, Q looked unsure. And very young. "I…don't know. I was invited to interview for the position. I was as surprised as anyone when they offered it to me. I had the core skillset but I was untried."
"Who issued the invitation to you?" James leaned forward, sensing he was on the verge of a breakthrough.
Q licked his lips again and James made a note to get the boy some water as soon as they were finished. He knew from first hand experience that interrogations made a man thirsty. "It came via electronic mail from the main Q Branch address."
So much for his breakthrough.
"Tell me, is your real name Stephen Sinclair?" James decided to take another tact.
He was ill prepared for the tears that flooded Q's eyes. When the man squeezed his eyes shut, the moisture matted his ridiculously long eyelashes. Why did James feel like he'd just kicked a puppy?
Q struggled to regain his composure, his fists opening and closing in a random pattern. His breath hitched in his lungs before he opened his eyes to stare up at James. "I don't remember."
"What do you mean you don't remember? Either it's your name or it isn't." The vocoder disguised the impatience in his tone.
Another hitch in his breath caused Q to pause before he answered. "They tell me that's my name."
"Who are they?" James demanded.
Q's eyes were sliding around the room, tracking poorly, his attention wandering. James held Q's chin once again, snapping his fingers in his face. The man flinched backward. "Division. The other Division." Q's speech picked up speed, words tumbling out of his mouth faster than made sense. "They said my biological parents didn't want me, gave me up, and Division took me in. They're my family. Without them, I have no one. They made me what I am."
One of the machines was bleating a warning. Q's pulse ox reading was above 90% but his blood pressure was dropping precipitously.
James tried to buy a little more time by shifting the topic. "Why was M angry with you today?"
The pallor of Q's skin was alarming, his breathing still labored and unsteady. "I was supposed to be at an appointment but an agent needed me at HQ."
"007. I know I'm not supposed to have favorites but he is mine. He may have lost a step or two but he's witty and smart and doesn't treat me like I'm fresh out of nappies."
James felt like a complete shite. Here he was pumping Q full of drugs, interrogating him, and the kid admired him. Except for the losing a step or two comment. Let Q be shot—twice—and see how quickly he bounced back.
The blood pressure reading leveled off but it was still too low. "What appointment were you supposed to attend?"
Q actually scowled, his earlier misery a memory. "A bloody head shrinker."
"Why does M want you to see a head shrinker?"
"He says I've been losing time. That there's something wrong with me. He thinks it's stress but I know that's not the problem."
Losing time would be cause for concern. James witnessed it firsthand when he'd met with Q earlier and the boy's attention had flitted away.
Perhaps someone had tinkered with Q's head, had a secret agenda, and was using the information in that big brain to cause mischief in MI6. That was the last thing the agency needed at the moment.
"What is the problem?"
Q locked eyes with James and for a moment it felt like the drugged man recognized him. "Division made me their weapon. The weapon is trying to come online."
"What Division? Q? Q!"
Both machines were sending out shrill warnings and Q positively wilted in the chair, the only thing keeping him from slithering to the floor was the wrist cuffs.
James punched at the IV pump, turning off the drug. He started the other drugs, which would counteract the low blood pressure and falling oxygen percentage. Undoing the wrist restraints, James carefully scooped Q up, pivoted, and then sat back in the chair, the young man secure in his arms. James could see the blue veins in the eyelids shuttering the blue gaze from view. Even after having been shot, twice, and washed over the waterfalls, James didn't believe he'd been this vulnerable.
What was going on? It sounded as though Q had been brainwashed, possibly since he was a child, and that MI6 had played some part in it.
And what the bloody hell did Q mean when he said he was a weapon?
James tugged the hood off, careful not to jostle the man in his arms. Next he unstrapped the vocoder and threw it on the side table. Craning his neck, he could see the readings on the monitors were climbing back into acceptable levels. He didn't think he was far off the mark in thinking Q would be waking up shortly.
Full disclosure didn't seem the route to take, not if he wanted Q's complicity in finding out the full extent of Division's role in his life. Instead James decided discretion was his only option; was probably the better part of valor, too.
Reaching back, James tugged the IV pump closer. With a bit of fiddling he was able to open the valve releasing the sedative. Q had too many drugs swimming around in his body, but if James was to pull this off he needed the younger man to believe in him.
Q seemed to be following the same script James had mapped out, his eyes blinking open. Dazed and glassy, the stare that met his wavered. "007?" The boy's voice was as tentative as his glance.
"Rest easy, Q. I'm going to get you out of here now." James voice was steady, his gaze unflinching.
The confused man in his arms relaxed, his left arm creeping around James' neck. "Okay." Those two syllables were infused with complete faith.
Q's breathing steadied and James paid close attention to the monitors. The IV pump beeped when the medication had been fully dispensed.
James pulled out the needle, throwing it on the ever-growing stack of clutter on the side table. He had to tear open the alcohol packet with his teeth, applying it to the oozing hole on Q's arm. He followed the same procedure to affix the plaster over the damp gauze.
"Off we go then, Q." In one smooth movement, James rose to his feet. Q curled into him instinctively, his head nestling back under James' chin again.
He marched upstairs, passing through the kitchen before heading up the next flight of stairs. The guestroom next to the one he had appropriated had been made up at his request and that's where he strode with the resting burden in his arms.
Now it was a matter of waiting for Q to wake up.
James hadn't wanted to strip the young man, worrying that upon waking Q would feel too vulnerable. Instead he'd slid him under the sheet and duvet, fully clothed, minus his shoes.
Sitting in the chair next to the bed, James watched the light and easy respirations signaling the sleeping man's journey toward wakefulness.
Q flexed his arms overhead, stretching cautiously. The steely blue stare peeking at James through half-mast eyes was a vast improvement over the previous, hazy state. "Bond?"
The voice was still groggy sounding but Q pushed himself upright. The change in altitude was more than his system could take and he wavered, James' hand stretching over his chest, pinning him in place. "Easy now, Q. Give yourself a moment to catch your breath."
James arranged pillows against the headboard, depositing Q against their downy softness. Color began to slowly seep back into the chalky face. "What happened?"
"You were abducted. I think there was a breach at HQ." James watched
Q carefully, trying to gauge how his news was being received.
A sharp intake of breath was Q's only visible response.
It was a measure of Q's disorientation that the young man didn't start firing questions at James about his kidnapping, and subsequent rescue. He asked only one thing. "Why?"
"Nothing to the good, I'll wager. The important thing now is keeping you safe until we can figure this out." He peered intently at the young man. "Do you trust me, Q?"
"Yes. Of course." The young man blinked before grinding the palm of his hand into an eye. It was at that moment James realized the blocky glasses were missing. The missing accessory certainly made Q appear much younger than his already overly youthful age.
Depending on how things turned out, James hoped he'd get the chance to teach Q some survival skills. Right now his lack of self-preservation was appalling. The only person you should ever really trust was yourself. "I will take care of you but you must tell me everything you know. For starters, when do you think Branch started pawing around in your head?"
James felt absolutely no satisfaction when the blood drained from Q's face, the young man blanching at his question. He seemed on the verge of a swoon so James perched on the side of the bed, pushing Q's head down between his draw up knees. Unconsciously his palm made soothing gestures on the knobby back.
It took a few minutes but Q finally straightened up. "I keep getting little flashes of…recognition for lack of a better word. Or perhaps déjà vu. I think I've always known Branch. It's definitely where I feel the most comfortable. I just didn't think they'd messed with my mind, not really."
James put his hand on Q's shoulder, squeezing lightly, trying to infuse steadiness into his touch. "When you were drugged, you said some things." Of course James hoped Q never found out that he'd done the drugging. "You said the other Division made you what you are today. A weapon. Do you know what that means?"
Q perched his elbows on his drawn up knees, his hands sinking into his curls. His eyes focused somewhere in the distance. "Q?"
Blood seeped from Q's left nostril, a tendril of scarlet coating his upper lip. "Q, snap out of it!"
The dreamy expression on Q's face never changed. The slender tendril of blood turned into a slick, with copious amounts of blood flowing from both nostrils now.
Pulling the starched white handkerchief from his pocket, James cupped the back of Q's neck with one hand while lightly pinching both nostrils. "Forget I asked the question, Q. Why don't we talk about something else?" James eyes cast around the room, alighting on the pile of clothing atop the brown cherry dresser. "Tell me why you wear an Everton football scarf."
Q mumbled a response but James couldn't parse out what he said. "What did you say, Q?"
The thin neck pushed against his hand, signaling Q's desire to sit back up. James allowed it, grudgingly. He was heartened to see the bleeding slowing considerably. His famous agent's intuition was telling him his questions had triggered the response. Maybe those clever minds at the other Division had built in some sort of failsafe to prevent Q from spilling what he knew.
"Evermore gave it to me." Q's eyes were wide and his teeth nibbled at his thumbnail. He looked less like a young man of thirty and more like a toddler about to suck on his thumb.
"Q, who is Evermore?" James employed his most unthreatening voice.
Q's eyelids fluttered rapidly. James wondered if a seizure was imminent. He was about to tip Q on his side and arrange him in the rescue position when his stare became more lucid. "I'm Stephen. Not Q." The voice was soft, a slight lisp shading the hard consonant of the last word.
Beguiling blue eyes stared at James and damned if that thumb didn't slide into the rosebud mouth for a moment. Fortunately Q pulled it right back out.
Maybe Q…Stephen…suffered from Dissociative identity disorder. Maybe Gareth had been on the right track.
Something about that supposition rang false for James.
It was far more sinister but it seemed more likely that someone had manipulated Q's—Stephen's—mind. Someone within MI6. Or someone, ala Silva, who was intimately acquainted with the SIS.
Stephen's eyes grew glassy again, blinking owlishly at James. He began to rock gently back and forth, humming tunelessly to himself.
It didn't take much effort to coax the young man until he was lying flat again, this time on his side, thumb still at the ready next to his mouth.
His Sony smartphone vibrated in his pocket. James had ben expecting the call and stepped into the hallway, not straying from the doorway where he could keep a visual on the young, resting man but far enough away not to disturb him.
"What do you have for me?" There was no need for pleasantries; he was paying the sub-contractor well to find information on Q. Stephen.
"It actually involves your former M. Did you know she was pregnant thirty years ago but of her three children, none of them matches that age, or close to it? What do you suppose happened to Baby M?" Despite the lilting accent, the voice was matter of fact.
James stared at the body curled under the covers of the guest bed. Worlds collided in his head: Not Baby M but Baby Q.
"Please stay on it. What have you found on Sinclair?" James rubbed at the back of his neck, the tension there feeding his rapidly spreading headache.
"No friends. No apartment. No real history. Finding information is proving rather elusive."
James didn't doubt it. MI6 was good at smoke and mirrors. It was their bread and butter after all.
"Thank you. Please let me know what else you dig up."
He disconnected his call, slipping the phone into his pocket.
Approaching the bed, James sat gently on the edge. A strand of hair drooped in front of Stephen's still blood encrusted nose so James tucked it behind a shell-like ear.
What was he going to do with Q? Too much was at stake to send him back to MI6 but if he didn't reappear, Gareth would launch a full-scale mission to recover him. He didn't think M was involved but he'd have to give careful consideration to reading the man in on this op.
One thing James knew for sure, he wasn't going to let the young man in front of him out of his sight. Even if there wasn't the threat of Stephen being some sort of weapon hanging over his head, there was no way James could entrust anyone else to care for what, or whom, he suspected was a living link to M.
There was no way he could have foreseen M's last will and testament turning into such a great puzzle with such potential grave consequences.
Stephen inched closer, seeking out the warmth of James' body. James couldn't keep his attention off the resting man-child. Wondering what was going on in his head. What demons pursued him.
The young man trusted him. James sighed; this would be so much easier in some ways if he didn't.
James would do his best to discharge the trust M had placed in him.
So much was riding on it now.
A/N: I'm very excited that Faye and I have a fandom in common again so I concocted what could very well be a new 'verse to play in. With a little luck my muse will cooperate and I can address some of the plot points left unresolved here. At the very least, I hope the birthday girl enjoyed my foray into a new fandom and my attempt at serving up H/C in honor of her birthday.